Oak Park, River Forest crime rates lowest in decades

Villages release 2014 UCR crime statistics


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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

Oak Park and River Forest police reported a drop in serious crimes in 2014, part of a crime-falling trend over the past two decades, said Village Communications Director David Powers. The two villages released statistics reported to the Illinois State Police under the state's Uniform Crime Reporting Index (UCR). 

Oak Park police reported 1,665 serious crimes or "Part I Offenses," down seven percent from the 1,798 crimes reported in 2013. River Forest police reported 263 serious crimes to the state police, down by 14 percent from 305 in 2013. 

Of Oak Park's serious crimes, the majority, 1,493, were thefts and burglaries, as has remained constant in Oak Park for decades. 

"Our 2014 statistics illustrate just how safe it is to live in our community," Police Chief Rick C. Tanksley said in a statement. He added that many burglaries were to garages, with two-thirds of garage burglaries through an unlocked door or window. 

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek credited "the collaboration of dedicated police officers and an active, engaged citizenry," with the drop in crime.

A summary of other crimes:

Robberies and crimes to persons:  Oak Park reported 83 robberies, 15 aggravated assault/batteries and five criminal sexual assaults in 2014. Robberies were about the same from 2013, which had 85 robberies. Oak Park police made 19 robbery arrests in 2014.  River Forest reported seven robberies, up from five in 2013. River Forest arrested three for robbery, down from four in 2013.

The number of aggravated assaults in Oak Park was down 58 percent from 36 in 2013. Police said that in the majority of these cases, offenders knew their victims and were reluctant to prosecute. River Forest police reported 10 cases of aggravated battery and assault, up from nine in 2013.

In all five cases of criminal sexual assault in Oak Park, the offenders and victims knew each other, police said. Two cases of criminal sexual assault were reported in River Forest.

Auto thefts: Oak Park police reported 75 auto thefts this year. Car thefts were up from 59 in 2013. Police said an area-wide car crime spree targeted minivans. Police made four arrests for auto vehicle theft in Oak Park, Forest Park and Chicago. River Forest reported two car thefts and made no auto theft arrests.

Arsons: Four arsons took place in Oak Park this year, down from five in 2013. One arson arrest was made and two others are under investigation, police said. No arson this year was reported in River Forest.

Homicide: No homicides were reported in either village. The last reported homicide in Oak Park was one in 2011.

Cannabis and other drugs: The number of cannabis arrests in Oak Park was up by 65 percent from 23 in 2013 to 38 in 2014. Oak Park police arrested 20 people for possession of other drugs, up 43 percent from 14 arrests in 2013. 

DUI arrests: Oak Park and River Forest also bumped up the number of DUI arrests made in 2014. Oak Park police arrested 152 people for DUI, up 16 percent from 131 in 2013. River Forest made 101 DUI arrests in 2014, up 19 percent from 85 in 2013. 

Calls for service: The total number of calls for service in Oak Park dropped by 2 percent in 2014 from 33,155 in 2013 to 32,651. River Forest police reported 9,747 calls for service, slightly down from 9,762 in 2013.

Arrests down: The total number of arrests for serious crimes dropped in Oak Park by 31 percent from 224 in 2013 to 155 in 2014. 

River Forest police made only seven burglary arrests in 2014, compared with 32 in 2013. The total number of arrests in River Forest was down by 18 percent from 119 in 2013 to 98 in 2014.

Oak Park's Tanksley said the department was encouraged by the drop in crime but remains vigilant. 

"Even though crime has been declining overall for years and last year's decline is significant, the police department never loses sight that each number represents a person who has encountered a criminal or criminal activity and may carry that encounter with them for the rest of their lives," he said.

Tanksley said Oak Parkers help the police by calling in suspicious persons or activities, which sends the message that Oak Parkers are on the lookout for crime. 

River Forest Police Chief Gregory Weiss attributed the double-digit drop in River Forest serious offenses to an uptick in offenses in 2013. 

Weiss credited "a dedicated team of professional officers, along with an investment in training and technology," as part of the reason for the River Forest drop in crime.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the number of DUI arrests in 2014 by the Oak Park police. The correct number of DUI arrests in 2014 was 152, or 16 percent higher than the 131 DUI arrests in 2013.

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Reader Comments

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Island Dweller   

Posted: January 19th, 2015 10:44 PM

when I seen the number in robberies drop significantly, but I have a feeling that's not going to happen. Whether people want to believe it or not, people from a cross the eastern border come here with guns and rob residents because they know people here have money and that they can get away with it. That's not going to change anytime soon.

Island Dweller  

Posted: January 19th, 2015 10:42 PM

It seems like this type of article happens once a year now as a kind of reassurance to residents and prospective residents. It's trying to say, "hey look, Oak Park is "safe". But "safe" relative to where? Austin? No S&*T it's safer. Is it safer than other desirable suburbs like Riverside, Glen Ellyn, Naperville etc. No, not even near. Frankly the most concerning trend is the number of robberies that happen here, most of which involve a gun. I'll start paying attention to what the police chief

John Q  

Posted: January 17th, 2015 10:33 PM

Pookie, what does higher/lower numbers have to do with police performance? Too much tv isn't good for you.

Jan from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 15th, 2015 1:07 PM

Has there been a notable increase in crime since tenants began moving in to the affordable housing apartments on Madison St.? I recall there were a number of people posting warnings that street gangs and drug dealers would soon overrun the neighborhood. Are area residents reporting disturbances or police being called to investigate ongoing criminal activity? It sure seems like many of those fears about our new neighbors were based on ignorance and hatred.

Pookie from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2015 8:58 PM

So while the number of incidents may be lower, so is the performance of the police department. Also, I think it's shameful of the police chief to excuse the high numbers because the burglaries were to garages. Those garages are in Oak Park too. The burglary numbers were much better in 2011 and 2012. This is no time to be slacking.

Pookie from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2015 8:58 PM

More people driving drunk and a 19% increase in drug use. I believe this number would be higher if the police hadn't relaxed their drug paraphanalia arrests by 65% this past year. To their credit, performance was better in burglaries and Motor vehicle thefts, but that's not saying much when you look at the numbers. Burglaries solved in 2013: 4.75% Burglaries solved in 2014: 6.33% Motor Vehicle thefts solved in 2013: 3.39% Motor Vehicle thefts solved in 2014: 5.53% So while the number of inci

Pookie from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2015 8:57 PM

100% increase over 2013 in criminal sexual assaults. Robberies solved in 2013: 23.53% Robberies solved in 2014: 22.89% Aggravated assault and batteries solved in 2013: 77.78% Aggravated assault and batteries solved in 2014: 66.67% Arsons solved in 2013: 40% Arsons solved in 2014: 25% Thefts solved in 2013: 13.15% Thefts solved in 2014: 8.73%

Pookie from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2015 8:56 PM

Wow, it must be the common core math they teach in Oak Park schools nowadays, or Oak Park has learned the numbers fudging game from their masters at the Chicago Police Department. I'm looking at the numbers right in front of me on the web page. Who should I believe, you or my lying eyes?

Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2015 5:53 PM

Given our location, Oak Park is remarkably safe. Our police are terrific!

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